Tag Archives: Christmas

The Christmas Gift That Everyone Needs

24293970_10155971182684214_1901089510484304777_nRegardless of how hard we try, the gift-giving season can create pressure. Whether it is trying to figure out what to buy that person “who has everything” or how to answer the question, “what would you like for Christmas?”, Christmas gifts can cause stress. This is so sad, considering the simplicity that is intended by the idea of gift exchange.

If we did not know better, we would ask for and try to purchase gifts that have real meaning. Peace in the world, an end to starvation and sickness, universal love and joy… none of us are naïve enough to even dream of such gifts. So in their place, we spend lots of money on gadgets and trinkets and ugly Christmas sweaters!

At the risk of appearing idealistic, I want to offer an idea for a gift that everyone needs. This gift is the purpose behind the concept of Christmas. This is the reason that God sent His Son, born of a virgin, into this world.

We all need the gift of a saved soul.

The baby Jesus came as a sacrifice. He didn’t come to earth at that time to start another religion or to set up His earthly Kingdom or to overthrow the government. Jesus came to die, to resurrect, to ascend to heaven and to eventually come back. The purpose of the incarnation was to redeem humankind and to reconcile us back to God. This process of the coming of the Savior is what provides the possibility of our salvation.

We all need the gift of a saved soul.

If we will be honest, it’s not the boxes of candy or Chia Pets or cheap cologne that we want and need. We need to see souls saved. If I could have anything I want for Christmas this year, it would be for friends and loved ones to come to know Christ. The problem is, asking my family for such a gift would be unfair. You see, they do not have the ability to wrap up this gift and put it under our tree. We can’t give the gift of salvation for Christmas. Or can we?

Salvation cannot be purchased online or in a crowded department store. There is only one source where forgiveness of sins and new life can be found – in a relationship with Jesus. So, is it possible for us to give the gift of a saved soul? Perhaps, if we learn how to focus on this most important gift throughout the holiday season.

Rather than scouring the store shelves for the perfect gift, let’s give the gift of a redeemed life. Instead of stressing out over the holidays, let’s model how a true Christian behaves. We can show and share the love of Christ with those we meet. We can focus on the salvation of lost souls in every event, church service, social gathering and family get-together.

You can participate in giving the gift of a lost soul for Christmas. If you don’t currently live for Christ, make the decision to do so today. If you do live for Christ, let that relationship show in every possible way this Christmas season.

Christmas 2017 has the potential to be the best ever, but not by spending a boatload of money for things we don’t need. Let’s invest ourselves in seeing people come to Christ this Christmas season.

We all need the gift of a saved soul!

 

 

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5 Ways to Prepare the Way for the Lord (at Christmas and Beyond)

design7John the Baptist was chosen by God to get people ready for the first Advent -Christmas. You and I are chosen by God to get people ready for the second Advent –the soon return of Jesus Christ!

Isaiah prophesied about the coming Good News: “Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:4-5) Think about it! The birth of the Savior removed the obstacles that kept people from God. Jesus broke down the barriers that kept sinners away. No wonder Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year.” People far and wide are given access to a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ!

Handel’s Messiah, “Every valley shall be exalted…” is a very exciting piece of musical genius. The message, based upon Isaiah’s prophecy is, everything is about to change! Jesus is coming to earth in the form of a baby and, because of the Incarnation, nothing will remain the same. We celebrate His birth!

But now, since Jesus came the first time, we must prepare people for His return. As John the Baptist went before Jesus announcing His arrival, we must precede His coming by announcing that He is about to return. The responsibility to prepare others for the coming of Jesus is not John’s alone. We also bear the responsibility of letting people know about the Lord.

Let’s think about five ways that we may do this:

  1. Focus on the Gospel: Good News = Jesus! Jesus is the hope that the world desperately needs. Don’t get caught up in the trappings of the holiday; put Jesus first. Our lives will point to His second coming.
  1. Stay Grateful. Let’s avoid the temptation to become greedy. We have so many things; God has been so good to us. Let’s express our thankfulness to God for all that He has provided and let’s learn the art of contentment.
  1. Make the most of the season. These are evil days and the Word tells us to make the most of the time in days like these (Ephesians 5:15-16). People all around us are hurting and they are more open to spiritual solutions during the holiday season. Be sensitive to the needs of others and make the most of your opportunities to share God’s love with them.
  1. Invest in eternity. Is someone in your life impossible to buy a gift for? While we should buy gifts for one another, possibly we should consider a present that could change eternity. Rather than another gift from a family member, I would rather see a donation to an orphanage, support for a missionary family, a gift for a nursing home resident or a Bible for someone who has none. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:19-21 to lay up treasures in heaven rather than on earth. Let’s invest in eternity!
  1. Commit to live Christmas every day of the year. One reason why so many people are sad and depressed during the holiday is that they focus on one day rather than upon a lifestyle. December 26 is not the end of Christmas; it is the beginning of a Christmas lifestyle. The results of the birth of Jesus are every day and they last forever. Let’s celebrate as much throughout the year as we do during the holidays. We celebrate by anticipating the coming of the Lord!

An appropriate celebration of the first Advent helps us to prepare for the second Advent. Let’s prepare those we love for the coming of Jesus. Christmas is the best time of year to become a Christ-follower!

Our job:

Prepare ourselves for the most sacred time of the year and for what is just ahead.

Prepare our families.

Prepare our church.

Prepare our community.

Get ready, Jesus is coming!


Is Peace on Earth Possible?

manger-to-the-cross

John 20 recounts the resurrection of Christ after He had been crucified. He appears to His disciples on three different occasions. Each time, He greets them with the same phrase: “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19, 21, 26) I believe the reason for this is that they were very troubled by the events of the past few days. Their friend and leader had been killed; they were in hiding, afraid the same may happen to them. Jesus calmed them with His presence and His promise of peace.

I can’t think of a more appropriate greeting for today. If we’ve ever needed peace on earth, we need it now.

A significant statement is made when the angels appeared to the shepherds, announcing the birth of Messiah: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14) This is the message of Christmas – peace on earth.

The purpose of the coming of Jesus is to bring peace, to make a settlement between God and humankind. Clearly, those who are odds with Christ will not enjoy His peace. In fact, He once said, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” (Luke 12:51) He was speaking of the necessity of choosing Him. Jesus is what separates good from evil, peace from war.

So the only way to have peace is to know Jesus; not just as a newborn baby, but as the resurrected Lord and King. You’ve seen the bumper sticker: No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Peace be upon the earth, peace be upon you.

Photo: phillipgreene.wordpress.com


Christmas is Flesh and Blood

images-90We should know by now that the holiday is not about the presents we receive. It really is about people. There are people who actually have to buy their own presents because there is no one in their lives. They are missing the greatest joy.

My heart goes out to a friend who lost both her and sister and her mother this week. I lost my mother this year – Christmas will be a little different this year.  Then I think about the military personnel who are separated from loved ones this week. There are college students, widows, orphans, many people without people in their lives.  People who are incarcerated, even people who have to work through the holidays, will struggle to celebrate to the fullest extent. People make Christmas what I is.

Regardless of what marketers tell us, no amount of spending on presents will fulfill the purpose and meaning of Christmas. Christmas is about people: family, friends, and loved ones.

On the birth of Jesus, Athanasius of Alexandria wrote, “He became what we are that he might make us what he is.” Christmas is God coming in the flesh and shedding His blood – so that we might be saved.

It’s not lights, not trees, not Santa. Christmas is flesh and blood. Be sure to share the love with the people in your life.

Merry Christmas, everybody!


why Easter is bigger than Christmas

Without launching into a theological debate, I want to address a little thought I’ve been having. I think Easter is a bigger deal than Christmas. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ while Easter commemorates his death and resurrection from the dead. Obviously you can’t have Easter without Christmas. If Jesus had never been born, He could not have been crucified or raised from the dead. But also, if Jesus had not died and resurrected from the dead, we probably wouldn’t celebrate His birth! I believe, pound for pound, Easter trumps Christmas.

One of the things I find interesting is that Easter doesn’t seem to get the backlash that Christmas does. Aside from the Jewish observation of Passover, Easter doesn’t have a lot of rivals (and the two are certainly connected!). There seem to be very few complaints about the religious nature of the day. Obviously bunnies and eggs have their supporters, but the animosity that comes against Christmas is pretty much absent at Easter. Sure, many public schools no longer observe Easter break, preferring instead to call it Spring Break. But think about the opposition to Christmas. Every year, I dread the same conversations – about how we need to keep Christ in Christmas. I don’t think it helps when Christians spend a lot of time complaining about the commercialism of Christmas. It’s a shame that we even have to have these conversations. Over all, people just seem to go with the flow of Easter, without a lot of pushback.

That’s not my only point. I am using impact as my criteria for assessment.

My observation is that Easter garners a lot more real ministry activity than does Christmas. At least in my circles, this season is massive for reaching out to people who don’t know Christ and who don’t go to church.  Christmas Eve has its punch but nothing equals Easter when considering the number of people who actually go to church services.  It simply has a greater impact. I know that tomorrow, over twice as many people will come to our church than who attend on any given Sunday. There is something to this Easter thing!

Now my hope is that the impact of Easter will last longer than one day, or one week. We are praying for an eternal impact in the lives of lots of people.  In churches all over the world, the truth of the resurrection of Jesus will be told. Let’s ask God to change the lives of everyone who hears the message!

Nothing against Christmas but Easter rocks! What say you?